Anthony Gallo moved one step closer to becoming the Republican candidate for Middlesex County sheriff, defeating Peter Pisar by a vote of 29-15 to win the recommendation of the Republican county organization screening committee.
The line will be awarded at a convention on March 16.
Pisar is looking for a rematch against Democrat Mildred Scott, who beat Pisar by 72,610 votes (63%-37%) in 2016.
Scott is seeking her fourth term as sheriff.
Republicans have not won a race for Middlesex County sheriff since 1968 when John Flanagan defeated longtime incumbent Robert Jamison by about 3,200 votes.
Flanagan lost his bid for a second term to Democrat Joseph DeMarino in 1971.
Before that, the last GOP win in a Middlesex sheriff race was in 1926.
They lost the post in 1929 when Metuchen Democrat Bernard Gannon defeated Republican undersheriff William Price after incumbent William Hannah retired.
Gallo, the Carteret GOP municipal chairman, is a commissioner of the Carteret Housing Authority and works as a realtor and NRA-certified firearms instructor. He is a retired New York City police department auxiliary officer.
Both candidates have lost local races in recent years: Gallo for council in Carteret and Pisar for mayor of South Amboy.
The screening committee unanimously recommended Edna Letitia Cox and Thomas Cogan to run for Middlesex County freeholder.